It’s one of the most expensive mushrooms in the world, and now – with the help of adorable chocolate Labrador Iago – you can sniff out your own supply of Périgord black truffles
Four-star wine estate Château de Mercuès, in France’s Lot Valley, has launched an immersive Toques ‘n’ Truffles experience where, as well as truffle hunting, you can enjoy Michelin-star cuisine, a winery tour and soak up the thrills of a world-famous truffle market.
Taking place on selected dates in February, the two-night package includes accommodation at 13th-century castle Château de Mercuès, which has been transformed by local winegrower Georges Vigouroux into a prestigious wine estate.
The Lot Valley’s limestone plateau and open landscape have created the perfect biological combination that allows truffles to cultivate, and guests will follow Christine Vigouroux and Iago’s lead as they head to the edge of oak woods and the moorlands looking for browning damp ground, a sign that truffles could be present. Iago will systematically check the ground, and when her tail starts wagging, you’ll know you’ve struck gold.
Guests will then enjoy the fruits of their labour with a four-course lunch at La Table de Haute-Serre, which holds a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand, at Vigouroux’s sister property, Château de Haute-Serre. It’s then onto the world-renowned Lalbenque truffle market in Quercy.
The market takes place once a week during peak winter truffle season and is one of the most famous places in the world to buy black truffles. Sellers arrive in the main square at 2pm ready to secure the very best price for their valuable produce, and at exactly 2.30pm the rope guard is lifted, allowing buyers to begin their haggling.
To round off the day, guests can relax and unwind while enjoying a Truffle Hunter’s Tea of mulled wine and milla cake back at Château de Haute-Serre.
While staying at the 30-room Château de Mercuès, visitors have the opportunity to dine at Michelin-star chef Julien Poisot’s Le Duèze restaurant and sample an array of local delicacies, and enjoy a three-course meal at the property’s second restaurant Bistrot du Château.
Finally, the property boasts a 40-hectare vineyard, and there will be ample time to taste its award-winning Malbec wines and explore the underground winery and ageing cellar underneath the castle terrace.
The Toques ‘n’ Truffles package starts from €1,278 per person and includes two nights’ full-board accommodation (excluding drinks) in a classic room at Château de Mercuès, a visit to the Lalbenque truffle producers’ market, a truffle hunting experience with Christine Vigouroux and her dog Iago, and a winery tour and tasting. The package is available on the February 3, 10, 17 and 24.
To book visit www.chateaudemercues.com or call +33 05 65 20 00 01.